25 Japanese Gardens All Nature Lovers Need to Visit ASAP

Manicured landscapes, wildflower fields, and Zen rock gardens define these historic retreats.

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John S Lander

Each Japanese garden has its own fascinating history — some of the beautiful scenes here go back as far as the 17th century, while others were originally commissioned for wealthy actors and businessmen but are now open to the public. Many are located in Kyoto, formerly the capital of Japan, a city on the island of Honshu. It's known for its many Buddhist temples and abundance of gardens and palaces.

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Kyoto: Okochi Sanso Garden

This garden used to be an estate owned by renowned Japanese film actor Okochi Denjiro. Now open to the public, the garden offers views across the whole city as well as a Shinto shrine.

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Kyoto: Rokuon-Ji

The site of a Buddhist temple, "Rokuon-ji" translates to "Temple of the Golden Pavilion."

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Kyoto: Tenryuji

The Tenryuji temple is reportedly the most important temple in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto.

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Kyoto: Nanzenji

Nanzenji is one of the most powerful Zen monasteries. The main Zen rock garden has a quiet beauty.

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Kyoto: Nanzen-in Garden

This lush garden is also on the grounds of the monastery, but has a completely different character. The still pond is surrounded by Japanese maples, moss, and other native plants.

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Okayama: Koraku-en

This garden is considered one of the three great gardens in Japan, having reached its modern form in 1863.

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Tokyo: Tonogayato Garden

This naturalistic garden was designed between 1913-1915 for a senior director in the Mitsubishi Group. After eventually being bought by the Tokyo municipal government, the park opened to the public in 1979.

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Tokyo: Tonogayato Garden

Sky-high bamboo line the walkways, creating a natural "wall."

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Tokyo: Tonogayato Garden

Waterfalls, stone walkways, and a natural spring are just a few highlights in this calming garden.

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Tokyo: Shinjuku Gyoen

Originally an imperial garden (on the grounds of Lord Naito's estate), Shinjuku Gyoen became a national park after World War II.

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Tokyo: Shinjuku Gyoen

The 144-acre park is one of the largest in Tokyo. The grounds include gardens in the French formal, English, and traditional Japanese styles.

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Tokyo: Shinjuku Gyoen

Stone lanterns can be found scattered throughout the grounds of this popular garden.

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Kanazawa: Kenrokuen

Dating back to the 1620s, Kenrokuen is considered one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan.

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Kanazawa: Kenrokuen

In the spring, the flower-viewing bridge offers views of dozens of purple irises.

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Kanazawa: Kenrokuen

Kenrokuen was thoughtfully designed to be beautiful year-round — not just during peak blooming seasons.

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Tokyo: Hamarikyu Gardens

This exquisite landscape garden is on the grounds of a 17th-century Shogun villa.

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Tokyo: Hamarikyu Gardens

City views compete with the sight of thousands of yellow and red cosmos, which burst into bloom during August and September.

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Takamatsu: Ritsurin Garden

Within this scenic garden, visitors will find a folk museum, unique shops, and the Kikugetsu-tei teahouse, where they can sit on the veranda and admire the view.

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Taketa City: Kuju Flower Park

Tiptoe through tulips, poppies, lavender, sunflowers, and other lovely blooms at this 49-acre park.

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Taketa City: Kuju Flower Park

The winding paths also treat visitors to views of the majestic Kuju mountain range.

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Okayama: Korakuen

Korakuen was created more than 300 years ago and is one of the most notable gardens in Japan.

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Oakayama: Korakuen

The graceful Engetsukyo Bridge is a local landmark for its distinctive half-moon design.

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San Francisco: Japanese Tea Garden

For those who can't make it all the way to Japan, the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park offers the same tranquility and scenic surroundings.

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Seattle: Japanese Garden

Located within the Washington Park Arboretum, this Japanese garden is especially beautiful in the fall as the leaves begin to change.

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Portland: Portland Japanese Garden

In addition to wandering the gorgeous grounds, visitors to this garden can also experience cultural demonstrations and musical performances.

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